Living a Year of Kaddish
By Ari Goldman
(Schocken, Hardcover, 9780805241846, 224pp.)
Publication Date: August 26, 2003
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The best-selling author of The Search for God at Harvard continues his spiritual quest in this heartfelt and poignant account of the year he spent saying kaddish for his father.
The day after Ari Goldman celebrated his fiftieth birthday his father died of a heart attack, and Goldman began the ritual year of mourning required by Jewish law. There were the obligations (the daily recitation of kaddish in a
synagogue quorum of ten), the prohibitions (no listening to music or buying new clothes), and the self-examination that the death of a parent and the mourning rituals triggered. Death meant coming to terms with a father he loved but never fully understood, in part because of his parents’ divorce and its stormy aftermath.
Goldman explores the emotional and spiritual aspects of spending a year in mourning, as he examines its effects on him as a husband, father, and member of his community. Left without parents (his mother died four years earlier), he is no longer a son to anyone, but he comes to understand that through the daily recitation of kaddish, he can both connect with and honor his mother and his father in a way that he could not always do during their lifetimes. And in his daily synagogue attendance—usually near his Manhattan home but also, during the course of his travels in Israel, the Catskills, and France—he finds his fellow worshipers to be an unexpected source of strength, wisdom, and comfort.
Living a Year of Kaddish is a deeply affecting journey through grief, loss, and acceptance—a book that will resonate for people of all faiths who struggle with the inevitability of losing the ones they love.
Ari L. Goldman is the author of The Search for God at Harvard (a New York Times Notable Book) and Being Jewish. From 1973 to 1993 he was a reporter for The New York Times. Currently a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, he is also a regular contributor to The New York Times and the Jerusalem Post, and he lectures throughout the United States on both religion and journalism. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.
"This jewel of a memoir explores the paradox of mourning for an observant Jew. It is a time of piercing aloneness and yet of fortifying community, the community of fellow worshippers saying kaddish. With tenderness and honesty, Ari Goldman brings the reader, too, inside that circle of loss and resilience."
--Samuel G. Freedman, author of Jew vs. Jew
"Ari Goldman has written a loving tribute to the faith he shared with his father and to its power to heal the wound of bereavement." --Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
“A brave and comforting book about losing your parents and finding yourself and your community. Goldman’s chronicle of his year of kaddish is a fine companion while recovering from loss.”
—Stephen Fried, author of The New Rabbi: A Congregation Searches for Its Leader